Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Jazz Performance - "Birmingham Breakdown" - The Wolverine Jazz Band

George A. Borgman had a penchant for jazz musicians who played instruments that he played such as piano, saxophone and clarinet. One musician he had a special affinity for was Dr. John Clark the leader of the Wolverine Jazz Band.
George always wanted to write a story on Clark and his band, but because the Wolverines were always playing either on tour or in the studio, he never got a chance to interview Clark.
The Wolverines have recorded thirteen CDS their latest will be released in a shortly. In this performance of Birmingham Breakdown from the 2013 Hot Steamed Jazz Festival in Essex, Connecticut (which has sadly closed down), the band is comprised of John Clark clarinet and saxophone; Jeff Hughes is playing cornet; Tom Boates is on trombone; with Ross Petot tickling the ivories; Rick McWilliams is on tuba and Dave Didrickson is playing the drums.
Birmingham Breakdown is a Duke Ellington composition from1926.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Memories of a Jazz Journalist - Part Nine - Pete Salemi by George A. Borgman

Here is the ninth installment of a series of entries entitled Memories of A Jazz Journalist written by George A. Borgman.

Rhode Island trombonist Pete Salemi, was known for his keen humor and amusing anecdotes. When I interviewed him for a story in the December 1997 edition of the Mississippi Rag, I queried him for his birthplace. He said, "Corleone, in Sicily. I am the Godfather, but I need a godmother." He also described how he used to goose girls with his trombone slide when they danced near the bandstand.

At age ten, Joseph "Pete" Salemi played guitar with his father and two brothers in a mandolin-guitar group. In 1915, a year after arriving at Ellis Island, New York, he lost two fingers on his left hand in an accident at a paper box factory, so he decided to switch from Guitar to trombone and began years of trombone lessons.

Around 1918, Salemi witnessed a battle of the bands between the Original Memphis Five and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band at the Balconades Ballroom on Broadway. He began playing trombone in bands, and his first job with a Dixieland band was in 1919 or '20. He became a charter member of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians in August 1921, and by 1924 he was playing in small bands in Brooklyn and worked in the pit band at the Gaiety Theatre, a burlesque house.

Pete Salemi subsequently worked and recorded with Gene Kardo's 12-piece band, and he played in the pit band for Minsky's burlesque show at the Republic Theatre, 42nd Street, for such strippers as Gypsy Rose Lee and for comics Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. He was in bands at the Moroccan Village in Greenwich Village, Leon & Eddie's on 52nd Street, Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, and the Arcadia Ballroom, and he worked with bands led by Eddie Duchin, Pancho (from Argentina), Vincent Lopez, Desi Arnez, Bob Crosby, Leo Reisman, Lester Lanin, Ted Lewis, Jimmy Durante, etc.; he played alongside Bobby Hackett and Bunny Berigan; he accompanied singers Sophie Tucker and Frank Sinatra; he was in the pit band for "Follow the Girls," starring Jackie Gleason; and he was in society bands that played for President Eisenhower's and President Kennedy's inaugural celebrations.

During his New York Years, Salemi turned down job offers from Guy Lombardo (he didn't like the band's style), Xavier Cugat (he didn't want to go on the road), and Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra (the pay was too low).

Album featuring Pete Salemi.
In 1967, Pete Salemi and his wife, Josephine, moved to Rhode Island, where as a member of Local 198, AFofM, he worked with many bands, including, since about 1994, Wes Gough's Jazz Strollers at the Larchwood Inn in Wakefield. In 1995, he was with Jeff Hughes' Brahmin Bellhops on the CD "Who's She Jazzin' Now?" and later appeared with Lost in the Sauce at the Sherborn Inn, Sherborn, Mass. Salemi's last appearance with the Jazz Strollers was September 12, 2002. Three days later he celebrated his 100th birthday. He passed away in his sleep at a nursing home in Coventry, Rhode Island, on January 17, 2003.

At Salemi's wake, according to Hughes, four or five members of a motorcycle gang stood at Salemi's open coffin, and they were crying. They and Salemi belonged to the American Pooling Association, and they respected his expertise at eight-ball pool, which he still played at age 99. Salemi was buried on January 20th with his trombone in his coffin.

Salemi's wife died in 1995. He left a son Joseph A. Salemi of Cranston; a daughter -in-law, Jean Salemi of Coventry, with whom he had resided, and six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. He was the father of the late John C. Salemi (d. 1993).

Pete, his music and his humorous stories will be missed by all who knew him.  

Pete Salemi is on trombone on this performance recorded in 1931.
The vocal is by Dick Robertson.


Monday, April 20, 2015

15 Years & Counting - Marce Enright and New England Traditional Jazz Plus!

For fifteen long years Marce Enright has been a champion and promoter of the New England jazz scene. Her website  New England Traditional Jazz Plus has become a fixture here in New England where she lists all the major jazz events that are upcoming and gives detailed accounts of previous jam sessions, with illustrations of photographs, that she has taken herself, and videos where one can actually see and hear some of the music that has taken place.
Marce also puts out reviews and stories and links to various jazz oriented websites as well as mailing out an awesome newsletter with meticulous listings, addresses and contact information for just about every traditional jazz and swing event that will be playing in the New England area.
Last year some of the bands that she has publicized, and the fans of those bands, acknowledged her for her terrific and hard work over all the years. She was honored with a special gift at the Jazz Jamboree at the Sherborn Inn, in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
I recently saw Marce at a performance of the Wolverine Jazz Band led by John Clark which she was covering. She pointed out that April was Jazz Appreciation Month, which I had no idea and expressed an interest in finding some jazz enthusiasts to help her with collecting information for the performance listings. Anyone who loves jazz and who might be interested  in helping Marce out or anyone interested in ordering her mailed out newsletter can contact her here:

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Saturday Jazz Performance - Siberian Dixieland - "Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing)"

In this weeks Saturday Jazz Performance video we'll see and hear Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing) by Siberian Dixieland a group from Russia. They first formed when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House in 1988.

The group started becoming more active since 1991 and has been perofoming straight since then. They have traveled the world and have performed at jazz festivals in the United States, Finland, Estonia, Holland, Germany, even China among others.
Siberian Dixieland is currently comprised of Sergey Gershenovich, on trumpet; Igor Gulyj, on piano; Vadim Dobrjakov, on trombone; Vladimir Kirpichev, on drums; Ivan Krivtsov, plays both the banjo and guitar and, (of course) the balalaika; Denis Kostin, on tuba (but who also plays guitar) and finally Evgenie Golovanov, on saxophone. They have put out many CDs.

Sing, Sing Sing (With A Swing) was written by trumpeter Louis Prima in 1936 and recorded the same year. However Jimmy Dorsey and Fletcher Henderson also made early recordings of the tune. It didn't become a Swing classic however until Benny Goodman recorded Jimmy Mundy's arrangement of it on July 6, 1937. It further became legendary when it brought down the house on January 16, 1938 at Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert.

Here now is Siberian Dixieland's version of Sing, Sing, Sing (With A Swing) from February 18, 2009 in Novosibirsk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

FROM THE ARCHIVES - Berlin, 1962

Here is a picture of George A. Borgman before his jazz writing career with his two children Carole and Paul taken on the balcony of his home in West Berlin in 1962.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday Jazz Performance - Max Keenlyside plays "Maple Leaf Rag"

This week for the Saturday Jazz Performance lets have a little fun! Since it is the first Saturday of the month I'm focusing on a jazz piano performance. Now, I've heard of two pianos being played together, but not by the same pianist!

This week Canadian Max Keenlyside performs Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, on two pianos at once.

Scott Joplin
Maple Leaf Rag was one of the great ragtime composer Scott Joplin's early works. It was copyrighted on September 8, 1899. It became a sensation and the model for most ragtime compositions afterwards. Over the nest twenty years Joplin wrote about four dozen ragtime piano compositions. The Maple Leaf Rag outsold every other musical piece that John Stark published and Joplin survived on the royalties from it until he died in 1917.

Max Keenlyside is a piano player and composer. He travels the world playing at festivals and has built up a reputation as an excellent performer and composer. In 2009 he represented Prince Edward Island in the National Artist’s Program and completed a thirty-five minute symphony for an orchestrain 2014.

Here he plays the Maple Leaf Rag just for fun on two pianos in 2014.

Here is a 2013 Keenlyside video performance where he plays more seriously demonstrating Stride piano by playing four tunes Snowy Morning Blues and Carolina Shout both composed by James P. Johnson and Keep Your Temper and Echoes of Spring by Willie "The Lion" Smith.